The original theatre that the agency built in 1999 represented a very large volume made entirely of concrete, slightly curved and rounded, giving it a certain softness. The purple varnish enhances and asserts this shape. The use of this colour is also a reference to several ideas: the theatre, often red through the ages, as well as the red/brown bricks typical of the north of France, designed to brighten up the grey sky of this part of Europe.
The extension that Manuelle Gautrand realised in 2014 was based on the architectural concept of a simple corner volume, almost rectangular. The design of the façades had to integrate with the highly visible part of the original project.
Faced with the difficulty of juxtaposing a new style, the agency decided to coat the extension in black: a deep colour to enhance this powerful volume. To create a soft link with the original volume, this black is implemented in the form of weaving metal panels, forming large rhombuses, as cladding assembled on an innovative diagonal frame, as a reminder of the ones Manuelle Gautrand stencilled in black on the original building.
Inspired by works by Soulages, in which the black can become as bright as white, the façades here become extremely light and shiny – almost crystalline – when the daylight reflects off it, owing to the glossy metal panels.
One of the last decisions was to think about progressively erasing the presence of the former façade of a 1930s movie theatre, preserved and restored on the original building as a part of the historical heritage of Bethune. As if one generation was chasing away the previous one, the façade was completely covered with the purple lacquer when the extension was built.